Meet Trisha. She is a life-time resident of Oregon, a City of Portland employee, and a grandmother of two. She’s also got a green thumb that she’s putting to good use. Trisha grew up in a farming community, and raised her own family in a similar setting.Gardening became a big deal to her early on. “I grew up very food scarce,” she recalls, “so when I became a mom it was really important to me to have a large garden . . .and to make sure my kids were never hungry and I was able to have some kind way to feed them myself.” But after her children grew up, Trisha moved into an apartment and her self-sustaining lifestyle became a challenge.
Trisha’s Project “I was just really aware [of] how difficult it is [to feed yourself] when you live in an apartment complex,” she explains. So Trisha got to work. She’d met SAGE at a fundraising event, and credits SAGE with then helping her forge the necessary networks to implement her vision. As a Legacy Fellow, she worked with SAGE to create gardens in multi-family housing, with a focus on communities particularly vulnerable to food scarcity.
Trisha partnered up with the Magnolia Apartment Complex and embarked on a three year project to transform its rooftop garden space into a flourishing community garden. Her approach was systematic, and interestingly, it wasn’t only a summer-time endeavor (she invested around 20 hours a month, year-round). In her first year, Trisha focused on horticultural education and teaching the residents how to manage a garden season after season. Year two was all about fundraising; Trisha garnered grant money to purchase soil, seeds, and other gardening needs. She also enlisted a residential co-manager to help lead the project. This year, she’s phasing herself out of the system. It’s important to Trisha that the garden continues to thrive even after she’s moved on from Magnolia.
Impact Working with the residents challenged Trisha to move beyond her comfort zone as an introvert. But the results were worth it. Trisha’s residential co-manager, who was formerly houseless, told her that he had never thought he would be in a space to grow food from scratch — and then eat it out of his own kitchen. For Trisha, his story is proof that the project has succeeded. And while the garden started out to address nutritional requirements, it soon morphed into something bigger. It’s hard to build community in an apartment complex when everyone lives in their own units, but Trisha says that the garden is actually doing just that. “The community garden was a way to. . .reduce food scarcity, but also to grow the community and I think we’ve reached both of those goals,” she reflects.
Legacy In the true spirit of a SAGE Fellow, Trisha’s project will leave a lasting positive legacy in her community. Her work will affect all Magnolia residents, young and elderly alike. She is, in the most literal sense, planting seeds that will go on to shade (and feed) not only the people who live at the Magnolia now, but those who will come to live there in the future. SAGE celebrates her passion, and thanks her for her dedication to fostering healthy gardening practices in her community and beyond.